Being a competition judge can be a mixed blessing. There are moments of hilarity when an entry provides an unexpected spark of humour (such as the Muslim chaplain who was asked by a student whether she wears her hijab in the shower) but also frustration when yet another entry is full of microphone pops or ignores the basic principles what works in a podcast.
Yet I’ve enjoyed listening to our competition entries, and it was good to get together with the other judges and find that we all had very similar ideas about who deserved to win and why. This is our verdict:
Winner: The Muslim Moses, by Abdul-Azim Ahmed
“This podcast stood out through a sense of continuity to the argument, a purposeful examination of a clearly defined subject. The entry was well scripted for the medium, and the script was well delivered. It also had a strong introduction, with a personal anecdote drawing in the audience. The guests were well chosen, and we were pleased to hear different faith perspectives, with a Jewish contributor appearing alongside the Muslim ones. At a time when points of strife between Muslims and Jews are all too often prominent in the media, it was good to hear about a subject which unites the two faiths.”
Runner-up: A Story of Faith, by Zack Polanski
“We felt that this podcast tackled an intriguing subject, and one that works well for the Things Unseen target audience. The presenter’s introduction was good and well delivered, and the guests strong. This entry was more enterprising than most in terms of the use of sound, in this case the piano music. There were construction flaws, but all in all this entry had a lot of strong moments.”
Third prize: Faith on Campus, by Philip Lickley
“The presentation was confident and had a good sense of immediacy, and the introduction drew us in. It was nice to have a spark of humour, with the Muslim chaplain who was asked whether she wears her hijab in the shower a definite highlight! What prevented this entry from claiming a higher prize was a lack of human interest narratives. However, the voices we heard had a freshness which we enjoyed.”
Warmest congratulations to our three winners! All of them have also been notified direct.
The winning entry, The Muslim Moses, will be available on our website from today, with the other two to follow at a later date.
I can’t let you go without a couple of quibbles, though. “I hope you’ll point out to all entrants”, said one senior judge, “that the sound quality of their efforts is fairly appalling”. I’m afraid I cannot disagree – even the three winning entries were flawed in this regard to varying degrees.
We understand that none of our entrants are radio professionals, but next time, at least listen to yourselves on headphones while you record, and do it again if you pop on the mike! And we’d much rather have an entry in mono than one where the presenter’s voice jumps from left to right like a ping-pong ball.
The other thing we missed almost across the board was strong storytelling. More often than not, the best way of showing the audience why a story matters is through human interest – and we heard very little of that. So for example, if your podcast is about the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam, what better way of starting that off than meeting a couple in a mixed marriage, and hearing from them where the points of friction are? From there you can then go into the theological background, but without such a human interest hook, your podcast is in danger of sounding very dry.
All that said, we were surprised and delighted by the enterprising nature of many of our entries, and the obvious enjoyment that went into putting them together. Thanks to everyone who had a go – and please keep listening!
Editor, Things Unseen
Image courtesy of ssalonso via flickr.com ©©